Huxley College of the Environment's Climate Action Contribution
Climate Action Commitments
Current Climate Actions Huxley College of the Environment Is Taking:
Commit to Reduce Short-lived Climate Pollutant Emissions
Short-lived climate pollutants—such as black carbon, methane, tropospheric ozone, and hydrofluorocarbons—are powerful climate warmers many times more potent than CO2 over their lifetimes. Because they are short-lived in the atmosphere, actions to reduce these super pollutants can have substantial, near-term climate, agricultural and health benefits and are an essential complement to CO2 reduction strategies. Policy-makers can announce regulatory or voluntary approaches to drastically reduce SLCPs, such as developing methane strategies or adopting rules on use of warming HFCs. Organizations can commit to engage with suppliers to provide training, conduct pollutant inventories, and establish systems for tracking, measuring, and monitoring these types of emissions. Analysis shows that SLCP emissions can be cost-effectively reduced by an estimated 40-50 percent by 2030.
Policymakers, companies and organizations are encouraged to accept the #SLCPChallenge of the U.S. Climate Alliance, which calls for ambitious action on SLCPs. Feel free to elaborate on your work towards reduction, along with your other efforts, in the "Other Commitments" field below.
Commit to Responsible Engagement in Climate Policy
While individual organization action is necessary, local and federal government action is also needed to reach global climate goals. Your organization can have a critical voice in advancing public policy. A commitment to responsible engagement in climate policy means that your organization commits to supporting public policy to: promote energy efficiency and renewable energy; increase investment in a clean energy economy; support climate change adaptation, or put a price on carbon.
Commit to Reducing the Climate Impact of Your Transportation
Organizations making a commitment to reduce the climate impact of transportation should consider practices such as measuring transportation greenhouse gas emissions and setting reduction targets, switching fuels, optimizing the efficiency of shipping operations, and reducing transit- and travel-related greenhouse gas emissions. Businesses can develop a green transportation action plan to map the movement of goods to market and identify opportunities to increase efficiency. Organizations can buy hybrid and electric vehicles within their own fleet, and can reduce the footprint of their workforce through incentivizing public transportation, installing EV charging stations, promoting telework, and locating near transit centers.
Commit to Increase Your Use of Renewable Power
Increasing your percentage of renewable energy sources is a key component of reducing overall GHG emissions. Installing onsite renewable generation, like solar panels, is a good long-term strategy if possible. But renewable energy can also be procured through Renewable Energy Credits (RECs), renewable power purchasing agreements (PPAs), and in some locations from retail electricity providers or local utilities that offers a high percentage of renewable power. Also consider becoming an EPA Green Power Partner.
Commit to Managing Campus Landholdings as a Carbon Sink
Using proper verification protocols, campuses can use landholdings to sequester carbon. In the cases of large university landholders, this can provide significant “negative carbon emissions” if properly managed. This strategy could be cross-sectorally combined with a public land protection strategy.
Commit to Completing a Resilience Assessment in Partnership with your Community
The Resilience Assessment is a key process to understand current strengths and vulnerabilities of the campus and community. This should be completed through research, in person forums, or other processes to engage your stakeholders in this assessment.
Commit to Creating a Campus Price for Carbon
Using your own preferred methodology, create a internal carbon price or tax to help incentivize and or fund carbon reduction efforts. This can be a parallel or separate effort to supporting national or local carbon pricing policies, with your institution as an example of the policy in action
Invest Endowment Funds in Clean Energy and Technology Solutions
Aligning college or university investments that are aligned with both the mission of the university and climate solutions can create significant win-win-win opportunities. Funding emerging innovations in clean energy through dedicating part of the investment portfolio can create new markets for climate solutions, help campuses meet socially-responsible climate targets through new products and services that reduce carbon emissions, and provide strong financial returns to meet fiduciary responsibility.
Commit to Creating a Green Revolving Fund on Campus or in Community
A Revolving Fund is a financing mechanism targeted to campus climate action projects that lower emissions, increase capacity for future projects, and reduce operating costs. Successful funds are at minimum 1% of the institution’s endowment value, or seeded at one million dollars. This is awarded as a Mark of Distinction for Second Nature Commitment Signatories.
Commit to an Aggregated Purchase with other Campuses to Procure Large Scale Renewable Energy
To meet ambitious climate goals, campuses must find cost effective ways to decarbonize energy supply. Aggregations helps enable smaller institutions to access the market and larger institutions to diversify their energy portfolio in a financially meaningful way. Start this process through attending Aggregation workshops via Second Nature or other partners.This is awarded as a Mark of Distinction for Second Nature Commitment Signatories.
Revise your Institution’s Climate Action Plan to Align with Other Sectors’ Climate Goals
Many campus climate action plans have not been updated in nearly a decade and much in the world has changed since they were first created. Build off of existing examples of climate action plans within the private sector, and/or look at local, city, state, regional, or international examples to allign or exceed your climate goals with new updates. These revisions could also be done in conjunction with a cross-sector forum.
Commit to Designing and Hosting a Cross-Sectoral Forum at your Institution
Commit to holding a public campus and community forum or workshop on shared climate action plan goal setting and/or resilience assessments. These forums will compare baseline targets and align the strengths of the respective sectors to drive solutions. This is awarded as a Mark of Distinction for Second Nature Commitment Signatories.
Take Actions That Lead to Climate Leadership Network Marks of Distinction
The Marks of Distinction recognize performance among a select group of higher education institutions. For campuses that are part of the Climate Leadership Network, performing exemplary activities that illustrate climate leadership is crucial to inspire new climate action with your students, alumni, and community.
Sign one of the Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments
President’s Climate Leadership Commitments are signed by Higher Education presidents and chancellors. They can sign either the Carbon or the Resilience Commitment, or the integrated Climate Commitment. The commitments require strong leadership to create a implementation structures on campuses, complete GHG inventories, develop climate action plans and consistently report on progress.
Commit to the Natural and Working Lands Challenge
The natural systems upon which we depend are essential to life and critical for reducing the impacts of climate change on our communities. These systems are also under threat from human activity and climate change. Maintaining the resilience of natural and working lands is an important part of any GHG emission reduction strategy. It is also important to securing the well-being of communities, economies and ecosystems. Actions that secure and enhance the “carbon base,” such as land conservation, restoration, and improved management, also support watersheds and food systems, improve air quality, protect against urban heat islands and sea level rise, and preserve the beauty and function of natural areas and parks. Those that accept the NWL Challenge should commit to securing natural and working lands as a resilient net sink of carbon. This will take different forms for different actors. For example, local, sub-national and national jurisdictions might take a broad approach like that of the U.S. Climate Alliance. Landowners and managers may wish to focus on restoration and implementing climate-smart practices on their own lands. Businesses may look at their supply chains and customers as potential partners, and incorporate natural and working goals into their own climate change commitments and strategies.
The U.S. Climate Alliance States commit to taking actions that will reduce GHG emissions and increase carbon sequestration in forests, farms, rangelands, wetlands and urban greenspace, and integrating these pathways into state GHG mitigation plans by 2020. The Natural and Working Lands Challenge calls on other states, cities, nations, tribes, businesses and others to make the same commitment within their organizations. Feel free to elaborate on your work towards this challenge, along with your other efforts, in the "Other Commitments" field below.
Areas For Collaboration
We are interested in collaborating on the following:
- Encouraging more aggressive state energy efficiency policies
- Improving efficiency in existing buildings through real estate transactions
- Supporting building thermal decarbonization and electrification
- Aggregating demand for electric vehicles with other actors
- Encouraging more aggressive state targets for electric vehicles and GHG standards
- Promoting increased charging infrastructure
HFC Phase Down
- Encouraging states to adopt policies to phase out HFCs on an accelerated timeline
- Promoting greater participation in voluntary programs to phase out HFCs
- Collaborate on climate and clean energy action, and to advocate for stronger climate policy at the local level
- Enacting policies and programs that cut fugitive methane emissions from oil and gas production
- Scaling initiatives to reduce methane from livestock and increase production of on-farm renewable energy
- Supporting adoption of state-level policies to reduce methane from upstream and midstream oil and gas operations
- Supporting implementation of methane leak detection technology and processes in aging infrastructure
- Developing in measurement and monitoring systems to target efforts and track progress
- Encouraging states to adopt incentive programs for forest management, tree cover expansion, and soil health
- Promoting science-based targets for GHG emissions and removals in agricultural supply chains
- Aggregating demand for renewable energy with other actors
- Encouraging more aggressive state renewable energy policies
- Supporting states, cities, and utilities in decarbonizing their energy supply
Like Earth Day, WWU’s Huxley College of the Environment recently celebrated it's 50th anniversary. Throughout our history, we have strived to embody the dictum of British scientist Thomas Henry Huxley, who said, “Learn what is true to do what is right.”